Space

From the sublime to the stunning: The best space photos of 2017

From the sublime to the stunni...
This remarkable composite image of the Crab Nebula brings together data from five separate observatories
This remarkable composite image of the Crab Nebula brings together data from five separate observatories
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The globular star cluster Messier 79, or M79, located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus
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The globular star cluster Messier 79, or M79, located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus
A dwarf galaxy called NGC 4625, located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs)
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A dwarf galaxy called NGC 4625, located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs)
This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows what happens when two galaxies become one – the twisted cosmic knot seen here is NGC 2623 (or Arp 243) and is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer
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This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows what happens when two galaxies become one – the twisted cosmic knot seen here is NGC 2623 (or Arp 243) and is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer
The remnants of Cassiopeia A supernova
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The remnants of Cassiopeia A supernova
A medium-sized (M2) solar flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME) erupted from the same, large active region of the sun on July 14, 2017
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A medium-sized (M2) solar flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME) erupted from the same, large active region of the sun on July 14, 2017
A young massive star that began life around 25 times more massive than our own sun is shedding shells of material and fast winds to create this dynamic scene captured by ESA’s XMM-Newton
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A young massive star that began life around 25 times more massive than our own sun is shedding shells of material and fast winds to create this dynamic scene captured by ESA’s XMM-Newton
Lightning captured in a photograph by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli from on board the International Space Station
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Lightning captured in a photograph by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli from on board the International Space Station
This photograph of the aurora borealis, or “northern lights,” over Canada was taken by a member of the Expedition 53 crew aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 15, 2017
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This photograph of the aurora borealis, or “northern lights,” over Canada was taken by a member of the Expedition 53 crew aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 15, 2017
Symbiotic System R Aquarii, processed by citizen imager Judy Schmidt
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Symbiotic System R Aquarii, processed by citizen imager Judy Schmidt
NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula
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NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula
Arp 299 is a system where two galaxies are in the process of merging
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Arp 299 is a system where two galaxies are in the process of merging
This stunning cosmic pairing of the two very different-looking spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) was imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
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This stunning cosmic pairing of the two very different-looking spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) was imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
This remarkable composite image of the Crab Nebula brings together data from five separate observatories
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This remarkable composite image of the Crab Nebula brings together data from five separate observatories
Dust and Gas in the Milky Way Center
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Dust and Gas in the Milky Way Center
NGC 7640 is a barred spiral galaxy
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NGC 7640 is a barred spiral galaxy
The orange-red filaments visible in the image show the shock fronts of a supernova explosion
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The orange-red filaments visible in the image show the shock fronts of a supernova explosion
NGC 4536 is roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo, it is a hub of extreme star formation
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NGC 4536 is roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo, it is a hub of extreme star formation
An impact crater or a polar pit on Mars
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An impact crater or a polar pit on Mars
The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a dwarf galaxy named NGC 5949
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The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a dwarf galaxy named NGC 5949
The center of NGC 1512 with some rather heavy processing to bring out the faint inner dust spiral
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The center of NGC 1512 with some rather heavy processing to bring out the faint inner dust spiral
NGC 2500 lies about 30 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Lynx
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NGC 2500 lies about 30 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Lynx
The Calabash Nebula — which has the technical name OH 231.8+04.2 — is a spectacular example of the death of a low-mass star like the sun
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The Calabash Nebula — which has the technical name OH 231.8+04.2 — is a spectacular example of the death of a low-mass star like the sun
A group of galaxies known as Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87) in near-infrared and visible light.
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A group of galaxies known as Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87) in near-infrared and visible light.
Classified as an S0/Sa galaxy, UGC 12591 sits somewhere between a lenticular and a spiral, and it is huge, about four times the mass of our Milky Way
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Classified as an S0/Sa galaxy, UGC 12591 sits somewhere between a lenticular and a spiral, and it is huge, about four times the mass of our Milky Way
The 2017 solar eclipse as seen from space
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The 2017 solar eclipse as seen from space
The 2017 solar eclipse as seen from space
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The 2017 solar eclipse as seen from space
The Orion Nebula and cluster from the VLT Survey Telescope
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The Orion Nebula and cluster from the VLT Survey Telescope
NGC 253, Sculptor galaxy
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NGC 253, Sculptor galaxy
Cave Nebula
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Cave Nebula
Tarantula Nebula
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Tarantula Nebula
M16 nebula with 33 hours of exposure
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M16 nebula with 33 hours of exposure
Spiral Galaxy NGC 1512: The Inner Ring
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Spiral Galaxy NGC 1512: The Inner Ring
IC 1396: Emission Nebula in Cepheus
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IC 1396: Emission Nebula in Cepheus
Galaxy IC 342
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Galaxy IC 342
The Orion Nebula
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The Orion Nebula
Winner of the Best Galaxy photograph at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition – M63: Star Streams and the Sunflower Galaxy
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Winner of the Best Galaxy photograph at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition – M63: Star Streams and the Sunflower Galaxy
Highly commended at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition: NGC 4565 – Needle Galaxy
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Highly commended at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition: NGC 4565 – Needle Galaxy
Runner Up for the Best Galaxy photograph at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition: NGC 7331 – The Deer Lick Group
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Runner Up for the Best Galaxy photograph at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition: NGC 7331 – The Deer Lick Group
The Lagoon Nebula
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The Lagoon Nebula
NGC 602 and Beyond
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NGC 602 and Beyond
M31 - RH305+16803
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M106 - First Image A-P RH305
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M106 - First Image A-P RH305
View gallery - 45 images

It's been a truly remarkable year for astronomical adventures. On Earth we witnessed the marvels of a solar eclipse crossing the United States, an interstellar visitor entered our solar system, and we discovered some exciting Earth-sized exoplanets. Some astonishing images of the farthest reaches of our universe were also captured. In this special gallery we collect some of the most awe-inspiring outer space images of 2017.

Between the Hubble telescope and the scores of observatories around the globe capturing torrents of data, 2017 offered up some gorgeous images giving us an insight into the unknowable immensity of the universe we inhabit. Many of these images have been processed with colors and filters added to enhance or clarify certain details, but none of them are fake or entirely computer generated.

NGC 602 and Beyond
NGC 602 and Beyond

Before you jump into the gallery and travel to the outer reaches of our universe, we'll leave you with two quotes to put things in perspective.

"The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries."
Carl Sagan -

Cosmos

"From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"
Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, speaking in People magazine on 8 April 1974.

Take a look through our gallery featuring a selection of the best space images and photographs of 2017.

View gallery - 45 images
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